Dear Friend,

As I’m sure you’ve heard by now if you’ve seen me since the semester began (highly unlikely, but possible) or if you pretend to still see me by stalking my pseudo-life on the interwebs (much more likely) you’ve almost definitely been made aware that I have the busiest schedule ever (Hence the silly hashtag I’ve used several times: #21CreditsHereICome)… and if you haven’t, you probably just assumed. When people ask me how I’m surviving with so much on my plate I usually turn to the following numbers and explain that there are:

  • 168 Hours in a week
  • 8hrs sleep each night = 56 hrs/week
  • 4hrs/week at church
  • 23hrs/week spent in class
  • 52hrs/week needed for class work (according to course codes, credits hours, etc.)
  • 15hrs/week spent at Chick-fil-A
  • 16hrs/week spent “Getting Ready,” Eating, Etc.
  • Which leaves a whopping 2hrs for whatever I want.

*I have been doing a Shabbat of sorts on Sundays. The main rule of this Shabbat is that only self-beneficial homework is allowed on Sundays… aka, ART!

By the time I get through the list people are looking at me like I’m insane, and are usually desperately wishing their mental math was good enough to follow all that nonsense. They’re right. I am insane… I have 90 hours of commitment EVERY SINGLE WEEK, and that doesn’t even include the basic tasks of life… Surprisingly, I was surviving. But let’s step back a bit and put this in perspective. Last Year, Fall Semester was horrible… sometimes I refer to it at the Semester of Doom. I was a week behind by the 3rd week of classes, I was living by myself and never saw ANYONE, I was feeling burned out from the whole experience/concept of “school.” By mid-September I was wondering if I should just drop out and take the rest of the semester off. BUT I pushed my way through, passed all my classes, and was rewarded by the Semester of a Lifetime (aka. Cross-Cultural.) Last fall, I was taking 14 credits. (That’s only 2/3’s of what I’m taking now) So WHY did I get myself into this mess?

Well, you see I was originally going to be taking 14 credits this semester. Those 14 credits included Social Work Practice 3, Race & Gender, Developmental Case Study, Painting, Drawing, & Women’s Chorus. Note that half of those classes are what I call self-care classes (aka. art and music.) But then over the summer, due to a combination of dated arguments with my old high-school guidance counselor, technical problems and high levels of class demand, I wasn’t able to get into the Bio class I was planning on taking (I could also go on about EMU’s scheduling issues with Biology for Social Work majors for  a while… but I won’t). Additionally, because I have to take it at Blue Ridge Community College it doesn’t count towards my minimum 12 credits to be a full time student so I couldn’t drop an EMU class to stay close to 14 credits, but instead went up to 18. Then I was on the waiting list for a program for next semester that would cover a class that I need to graduate, but because I was on the waiting list I had to add it to this semester just in case. But I also didn’t want to drop another class in case I got into the program and no longer needed to currently take the class I had to add.

Up until a few weeks ago, this semester was going amazingly well. I wasn’t behind on homework, I was actually reading my textbooks, I was getting to class on time, seeing people outside of school on a regular basis… You know leading what actually resembled a somewhat healthy life…. Then disaster struck. One tire on my car started having issues. Then my wisdom teeth decided they wanted to come out immediately (still not out, but no longer bothering me) and I spent a week holding ice-packs on my jaw because my gums were raw, and my cheek felt bruised. I went to work one weekend thinking “Well, at least at work I can forget my stress and just focus on the job at hand” only to have a super stressful shift. Followed, the next day, by a relatively mild asthma attack. In short, I had a weekend where I didn’t “accomplish” any of the things I needed to do school-wise, because I literally couldn’t handle doing anything other than just taking care of my mental and physical needs. It needed to happen, I would handle that weekend the same exact way if I had to do it over again… but taking care of myself has had academic consequences. In a schedule where literally ALL of my homework must be done on the weekends (which are Saturday-Monday), the need for a personal weekend left me an entire week behind where I needed to be with homework. And tired, so tired. I might not have been doing homework, but I started that school week utterly drained. Recovering from an asthma attack, dealing with emotional and mental exhaustion… I’ve used up ALL of my excused absences to go to meetings, take naps, and try to regain the positivity I had, only a few weeks ago, but I think I found it. I started making plans with people again. I’m using those last few hours every week to spend time with people. I found out I DID get into that program for next semester and so that class is in the process of being dropped. I was more productive this weekend then the past few weekends (although, admittedly, not as productive as I would have liked…). I’m almost completely caught up on homework, and what I haven’t caught up on, I have figured out a way to get it back to where it needs to be.

All of that said, when this semester comes to a close, I’ll be more than ready for a vacation.


Lots of Love, Mandi Jo


P.S. This post took several weeks to write, so don’t hold your breath for anything new anytime soon…

P.P.S. If I have been a horrible friend to you over the last year, due to over scheduling myself and traveling abroad, I’m sorry. I really do like you and I’m not trying to avoid you on purpose… and as previously stated, I have a little more wiggle room in my schedule than I did, so text me and we’ll go out for coffee sometime.